Sunday, December 7, 2008

Everything you ever wanted to know about Korean baseball cards

To put the title more accurately, this post is really everything that I know about Korean baseball cards.

After reading the recent news that former Doosan Bears pitcher Lee Hei Chun had joined the Swallows, I thought it'd be good to write a little something about Korean baseball cards. From what I can tell, there haven't been a lot of baseball cards for the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). The KBO started in the early 1980's, so obviously there's not a huge stretch of history to be wondering about. My biggest reference on this (other than just what I've seen out there) is Rob Fitts' Korean baseball card page.

So anyway, as far as I know, Korean baseball cards were limited to team issued sets - kind of like American minor league sets until 1999. That year, Teleca issued the first "American style" set - a 232 card set sold in packs (with various insert cards including autographed cards). They also issued a 100 card high end set called "Premium" and a 23 card All Star set (that I assume was sold in a box like the BBM All Star sets, but I don't know that for sure). The packs of the Premium set were interesting as they were little boxes rather than the traditional packs. The following year (2000), Teleca issued another 200+ card pack-based set, although I have no knowledge of them doing either a Premium or All Star set. After that, it does not appear that anyone has issued any Korean cards. Rob has nothing later than the 2000 cards on his website, and I've never seen anything else on Ebay (at least nothing I could date).

So, in a nutshell, other than some team issued sets, the only serious Korean baseball cards were produced by Teleca in 1999 and 2000. If anyone has more information than this, please let me know.

I like the two "regular" sets a lot. The 1999 cards have no borders and the 2000 cards only have a border on the bottom, so I find them very attractive, even if I have no idea who 95% of the guys are. The Premium set...not so much. They're silvery with no backgrounds to the pictures, kind of like Diamond Heroes or Topps Finest. They just aren't my cup of tea.

Here's some sample cards. First, from the 1999 regular set, the aforementioned Lee Hei Chun (#11) and Lee Seung Yeop (#80):



From the 1999 Premium set, Felix Jose (#47) and Koo Dae Sung (#75):



From the 2000 set, Kim Min Jae (#41) and Charles "Bubba" Smith (#71).



Bubba Smith is a legend in minor league baseball and it was because of him that I ended up getting some Korean cards in the first place.

14 comments:

minorleaguebb said...

Hi: Looking for Checklist info on Korean baseball cards sets if you and help me out. Also looking for info on Tawainese baseball cards also to. Thanks

minorleaguebb said...

Hi: Looking for Checklist info on Korean baseball card sets,if you and help me out. Also any info on Tawainese baseball cards. Thanks

NPB Card Guy said...

Sorry, I don't really have a checklist, other than the team checklists in the two 1999 sets. And while I have some Taiwanese cards, I know less about them than I do about the Korean one.

Anonymous said...

Hi: Is there any chance you could Send me scan's of those checklist. I'd like to add the information to my card database. Thanks My email is bennmilkman@yahoo.com

LastnameKim said...

I know that back in the early to mid-'90s, there were Korean baseball cards of players (but they were issued in the form of telephone cards)..kind of like the ones they have/had in Japan also. I guess you can consider these earlier versions of Korean baseball cards as well. I have a few, but I don't know where they are now.

Kiyoshi Konishi said...

I have a few cards from the KBO. The first card is a 1982 team issued Chel Sun Park. 2 bookmark cards made by Lotte candy company. Complete 1991 Lotte candy company 50 card set. LG Twins team issues form 1992 and 1993. Teleca phone card shaped but paper cards from 1993 and 1994. Actual Teleca phone cards from 1993 and 1997. Also, various miscellaneous cards including magazine inserts. It is very difficult to find checklists just lists of what individual collectors have other than the post 1999 Teleca sets.

NPB Card Guy said...

Thanks for the information. Yeah, as far as I know, there's no comprehensive list of what's out there for KBO cards (or Taiwanese cards either).

Jason said...

For anyone that runs across this post, I have been adding Korean and Taiwanese sets to the Inventory Manager over at SportsCardForum.com for about a year now. The progress for Korea is very slow, as new information rarely seems to turn up, but as Korean cards hit eBay, I try to add them. The same goes for older Taiwanese sets. The more recent sets are posted to the CPBL official blog, and I compile the checklists from there. The 2009-2011 sets are in the SCF system.

Jason said...

I found another blog with lots of posts about Korean baseball cards:

http://blog.naver.com/kkc00700/30126159668

If you wade through the posts on basketball cards, Power Rangers toys and miniature car replicas, there are some great posts about obscure Korean baseball sets.

NPB Card Guy said...

Cool blog - Looks like there was a collectible card game set (similar to Konami) for the KBO in 2010.

Thanks for the tip!

Jason said...

Yeah, I just missed a set of the card game on eBay. From the looks of it, and what I was able to make out from Google Translate, the game cards are most likely unlicensed as there is no indication of a manufacturer, and there aren't any details about how the play the game. I'm betting they're mainly just knockoffs of the Baseball Heroes sets with KBO players. Either way, if another set comes up for under $20, I'll probably snag one.

JasonP said...

I've found another Korean blog post with cards from a 1991 KBO Lotte Gum Baseball Kings set:

http://blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blogId=a1231724&logNo=120160119737

I'll update my checklist as soon as I can figure out who the players are.

Anonymous said...

Hi

Please see the below website for checklist for 99 / 00 teleca baseball card checklist.

http://cafe.daum.net/KBOjersey/QaRJ/593

http://cafe.daum.net/KBOjersey/QaRJ/592

From KBOjersey

NPB Card Guy said...

Thanks for the checklists!